Ex-Xinhua reporter apologizes for fake news

Updated: 2015-01-05 15:32


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Ex-Xinhua reporter apologizes for fake news

A woman passes a wall with a portrait of Lei Feng near a bookstore in Shanghai, March 3, 2012. [Photo/CFP]

A former reporter with Xinhua News Agency apologized on Sunday for spreading fake news in 1981 that claimed cadets from US Military Academy at West Point learnt from a model Chinese soldier.

"It is one of the biggest mistakes in my life to bring the lie about West Point learning from Lei Feng to China", Li Zhurun, a retired reporter from Xinhua, admitted in his Weibo account on Jan 4, 2015.

Lei, a young Chinese soldier in the 1960s, is known for devoting almost all of his spare time and money to selflessly helping the needy. The late Chairman Mao Zedong had called on the entire nation to follow Lei's example after the death of the soldier.

Li said the news was originally published by a foreign news agency as an April Fool's Day prank in 1981. He then cited the news in several magazines and materials for lectures as good example of news writing.

Li said he was young at that time and did not know the tradition of publishing fake news on April Fool's Day in Western media.

Li said he realized his mistake in 1997 when he read an article which touched on the West Point issue in the Chinese magazine, Du Shu.

Li, who works as a part-time professor in several universities, said he now asks students to carefully verify information before publishing it. But he has always wanted to "sterilize a larger scope" so he decided to apologize on his Weibo account.

Li said the stories containing the fake news (which was published under his pseudonym) have nothing to do with Xinhua and have no political purpose.